I thought I’d share a few of the films that have been popping up in my head during the holidays for the past few years. I am really sick of some of the die-hard norms that people tend to watch and label as holiday movie favorites, but I always felt that these 5 films truly define the holiday spirit and, of course, symbolize just what the holiday celebrations are all about, so if you haven’t seen them, you might wanna get a break from the A Christmas Story marathon. Don’t expect to see any Santas, reindeers, or little fucking elves, so without further ado, here are my 5 favorite holiday movies that I love to watch:
Players: Dennis Leary, Kevin Spacey, Judy Davis
Plot: A degenerate cat burglar (Leary) gets stuck with a dreary washed out married couple (Spacey and Davis) ,whose relationship is pretty much running on fumes, and decides to hold them hostage till he can figure out a way to make a break for it and escape the drabby suburbs of Connecticut, but little does he know just how dysfunctional and disconnected the rest this family is, so he begins to verbally tear into each family member as the hysterics and chaos force him to play the role of part psychologist, part masochist, and part marriage counselor.
Reason: This movie scores pretty high on my list due to the non-stop raw comedy of Leary versus the backdrop of your average delusional upper middle class Christmas. It’s always merry to see a change of pace with all the presents nestled around the tree with the smell of fresh egg nog while the shit hits the fan!
4. The Family Man
Players: Nicholas Cage, Tea Leoni, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Piven
Plot: A successful business man with all the spoils and trimmings of bachelorhood (condo, sports car, Italian suits, Rolex etc.) gets magically thrusted into the bane of suburban life by being transformed into a happily married man with 2 kids and a loving wife while eking by on a lower middle class salary. But as he settles into his fatherhood, he persists in trying to find a way out, but then realizes that …. (I WILL NOT SPOIL IT FOR YOU – WATCH THE MOVIE!)
Reason: As the movie progresses, you start to warm up to the blessings of the latter lifestyle as Cage’s character’s memory starts to unwind to desperately try to find a way back to the bachelor lifestyle. It’s probably one of the very few Cage movies I can tolerate, and the rest of the cast holds up pretty well too. It’s kind of like It’s a Wonderful Life meets A Christmas Carol.
3. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Players: Steve Martin, John Candy
Plot: A business executive (Martin) misses his flight home for Thanksgiving and winds up in the hands of a reassuring traveling salesman (Candy) who insists on a promise that he can ultimately have him home for supper, provided that they travel together by splitting the travel costs and lodgings. But through all the hell and high water the two somehow endure the horrors of middle America and the three modes of travel.
Reason: I miss John Candy. He was the security guard at Wally World in National Lampoon’s Vacation, so he always manages to steal scenes, but aside from his comedic genius, this film cherishes all the enriched qualities of friendship and tests the limits of male bonding, but most of all, it honors the finest elements that life has to offer: A house, A wife, Kids, A perfect home. To me, this is what the holidays are all about, and the ending always has me tearing up. RIP Mr. Candy…
Plot: Well there are many plots, and they are all rolled into one brilliant holiday epic. You have a ex-heroin addict aging rock star, a Prime Minister who has the hots for his assistant, a married middle aged dad who gets hammered with innuendos by his secretary while his wife tries to make sense of it all to a Joni Mitchell song, a widowed father who bonds with his son in the aftermath of their loss with a set of drums and a schoolboy crush, a soft porn actor who discovers love on the set of a blowjob scene, a sister who stops at nothing to care for her mentally challenged brother, a test of friendship between two “mates” after a wedding, a lonely author who has everything he needs in a woman but can’t find the right words…
Reason: This sounds and looks like a cheesy soap opera, but those fucking Brits have managed to put it all together with some brilliant editing and extremely mild plot twists. There are no real surprises, but it all takes place around Christmas. The end of the movie during the airport passenger arrival scene truly defines the meaning of human bonding as opposed to the sugarcoated cliched love theme. It is fun to watch and never gets dull, but also manages to bridge all the differences in human nature by proving that we are all not so different after all. A holiday classic!
1. When Harry Met Sally
Players: Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, Dave Chapelle, Bruno Kirby, Carrie Fisher
Plot: The film explores the philosophical question: Can a man and a woman be just friends or remain as friends if they are sexually attracted to one another? The tale takes viewers through the lives of the 2 main characters, Harry and Sally (Crystal and Ryan) as they manage to keep bumping in to each other over many years at various stages in their lives, and the film is set to the backdrop of NYC around the fall and winter. As they keep running into one another, they slowly develop a friendship that explores the million dollar question that ends in a semi-climactic NewYear’s Eve celebration. Hence, it is a holiday epic!
Reason: I hate to preach, but one’s sex life can be measured by a series of New Year’s Eves. I know it sounds weird, but everyone for some reason remembers most of their New Year’s experiences that pertain to their relationship status: either as partying stag, or with someone- aka your “other half”. So at the stroke of midnight, we wonder in all our childhood curiosity and amazement, just what the new year will have in store for us in terms of seeking some closure for our long term successes, in all aspects: your job, your goals, your finances, your relationships etc. So what better way to gauge one’s happiness than with duality of love and friendship, but to break the cipher of staying “just friends” and desecrating that cherished friendship with sex may bear the risk of a costly mistake, but at what price? This is why this movie truly defines who we really are on any given New Year’s Eve: just a few arguments away from saddened sheer loneliness, SO PLEASE ASK YOURSELF: Can a man remain friends with a woman if he’s sexually attracted to her? This movie is a philosophical classic, and the Katz’s Deli scene should not be missed; “I’ll have what she’s having.”